Don’t try and tell Greg Hardy that his October no contest result was anything but a win.
“In my eyes I didn’t lose the fight,” Hardy said. “I dominated three rounds of a fight – something everybody said I couldn’t do.”
Hardy originally scored a unanimous decision win over Ben Sosoli at UFC Boston last month, but it was later overturned because Hardy used an inhaler between rounds two and three.
A win would have made Hardy 6-1 in his professional career and put him on a three-fight winning streak in the UFC. Instead, it added another dramatic incident to his resume (Hardy’s only loss is a DQ for illegal knees in his UFC debut earlier this year).
But if you ask Hardy, the drama can’t take away what he has accomplished in the Octagon.
“Inhaler or no inhaler, I’m a man with asthma. I shouldn’t be here anyways,” Hardy said. “But I’m here fighting three rounds and knocking off all these men in one year – and I am counting Volkov. This is all a feat that has never been done before.”
Volkov, of course, is Alexander Volkov, the No. 7–ranked heavyweight in the world and Hardy’s opponent on Saturday at UFC Moscow. It’s a massive jump in competition for Hardy, who has yet to fight anyone in the top 15.
“This is the biggest opportunity of my career so far because this is the biggest competition,” Hardy said. “It’s my first real short notice fight, my first ranked opponent, my first Top 10 opponent and one of the most dangerous strikers in the heavyweight division.”
Hardy said it was an easy decision to accept the fight when his teammate, Junior Dos Santos, was forced to withdraw from the originally scheduled main event with Volkov.
It’s a colossal opportunity for Hardy. Many in the MMA world have been clamoring for Hardy to face a higher profile opponent. But less probably expected it to come against an opponent as qualified as Volkov this soon.
“They’re supposed to make a big deal about it; I’m kind of a big deal,” Hardy said. “This is going to be an even bigger deal because there will be blood, sweat and a whole lot of fighting. This fight will be a whole lot of war. He’s a tactician with his striking and I’m one of the most dangerous men on the planet. It’s going to be a beautiful event.”
Hardy may be making bold statements about his career thus far, but beneath it all is a fighter trying to gain the same thing so many others in the sport set out for: respect.
“In the aspect of my last fight, I have nothing to prove,” Hardy said. “In the aspect of ‘I belong here,’ I would like the respect of my peers and actual MMA fans. I do have something to prove. And I’m going to show them that win, lose or draw you’re going to get everything out of me. Volkov’s a master of the fight game. But I’m a master of athletics. I’m one of the best in the world.”